Evangelium Aeternum

Evangelium AEternum

(Everlasting Gospel), the name given to a book published in the 13th century (A.D. 1254), which was properly entitled Introductorius in Evangelium aeternum, probably written by the Franciscan Gerhardus. The idea of a new "everlasting Gospel" was one of the peculiar notions of Joachim of Floris (t 1202), who attacked the corruptions of the Church, and predicted an approaching renovation. SEE JOACHIM OF FLORIS. These predictions were appropriated by the Franciscans as really referring to the rise and character of their order, which was founded by Francis of Assisi six years after Joachim's death. An apocalyptic party arose among the Franciscans, which seems to have been led by Gerhardus, and by Johannes of Parma (q.v.). The Introductorius in Evangelium aeternum seems to have been chiefly made up from three of the writings of Joachim, viz. Concordia Veter, et Nov. Test.; Psalt. decem Chordareum; and Apocalypsis nova. It set forth Joachim's doctrine of the "dispensations" (status) of the Church, the last of which, the dispensation of the Spirit, was to be opened about A.D. 1200. The movement was a new form of Montanism. "Many vague notions were entertained about the Eternal Gospel of the Franciscans, arising from superficial views, or a superficial understanding of Joachim's writings, and the offspring of mere rumor of the heresy-hunting spirit. Men spoke of the Eternal Gospel as of a book composed under this title, and circulated among the Franciscans. Occasionally, also, this Eternal Gospel was confounded perhaps with the above-mentioned Introductorius. In reality, there was no book existing under this title of the Eternal Gospel, but all that is said about it relates simply to the writings of Joachim. The opponents of the Franciscan order objected to the preachers of the Eternal Gospel, that, according to their teaching, Christianity was but a transient thing, and a new, more perfect religion, the absolute form, destined to endure forever, was to succeed it. William of St. Amour (De periculis novissimorum temporum, page 38) says: 'For the past fifty-five years some have been striving to substitute in place of the Gospel of Christ another gospel, which is said to be a more perfect one, which they call the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, or the Everlasting Gospel;' whence it is manifest that the anti-Christian doctrine would even now be preached from the pulpits if there were not still something that withholdeth (2Th 2:6), namely, the power of the pope and the bishops. It is said in that accursed book, which they called the Everlasting Gospel, which had already been made known in the Church, that the Everlasting Gospel is as much superior to the Gospel of Christ as the sun is to the moon in brightness, the kernel to the shell in value. The kingdom of the Church, or the Gospel of Christ, was to last only till the year '1260.' In a sermon, St. Amour points out the following as doctrines of the Everlasting Gospel: that the sacrament of the Church is nothing; that a new law of life was to be given, and a new constitution of the Church introduced; and he labors to show that, on the contrary, the form of the hierarchy under which the Church then subsisted was one resting on the divine order, and altogether necessary and immutable" (Neander, Church Hist. 4:619). The Introductorius has not come down to us, but its contents are partly known from a writing of Hugo of Caro, preserved in Quetif and Echard, Script. Ord. Prcedic. 1:202 sq., and partly from extracts given by the inquisitor Nicolas Eymeric, in his Directorium Inquisitoriunm, part 2, qu. 9, No. 4. The theologians of Paris attacked the book upon its first appearance, and it was formally condemned by Alexander IV, A.D. 1255. — Neander, Church History (Torrey's transl.), 4:618; Engelhardt Kircheng. Abhandlungen (Erlangen, 1832); Engelhardt in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:275; Gieseler, Ch. Hist. per. 3, § 70.

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